I have taken many a video clip during this trip. Here's a fun one...
Cheers and happy training!
Tour Guide Time On this, the week before I return home, I am happily playing tour guide to Rob on Saipan, an island I will always consider my second home. Since his arrival, we have had a great time. Following his immediate introduction to Saipan on Sautrday morning with his first triathlon, we have been taking in all that Saipan has to offer. From World War Two landmarks like the last command post, where the Japanese retreated as the u-s allies made their attack....
To Saipan's most somber sight, Suicide Cliffs, where thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their deaths following surrender....
Being a tour guide is a lot of fun. Transportation? Mountain Bikes.
Green Flash Me
If you plan to visit a tropical destination, you must be on the lookout for the "green flash" sunset. I referring to the flash of green that sparks after the sun sets over an ocean horizon.
Now I have watched many sunsets on Saipan, but I can only attest to seeing a handful in the two plus years I lived here. Conditions have to be near perfect, meaning the sunset has to be devoid of clouds.
So as things looked ideal, I decided to have my hand at documenting this "green flash" some consider lore, though I knew as truth.
On Monday, green flashed, ever so appropriately on St. Patrick's Day.
Tuesday night was a teaser. Oh, but it so doesn't matter.
Cheers and happy training!
Posted by pinkgurugal at 7:09 AM
Crash Course Last Wednesday, following two amazing weeks in Vietnam, I returned to Saipan for the final leg of my trip. Ass early Saturday morning, Rob flew in to meet me. It took him 24 tiresome hours to get here. And when he arrived at 4am Saturday morning....two hours later, sans sleep and apparently loaded on Scotches from his houston/tokyo flight, he was racing in a relay triathlon with me in Saipan. What a sport. Now a 2000 meter swim on any other day would be a no brainer for Rob (he swam competitively up until college), but try that after flying and drinking all day. So after the first 1000 meters, after looking like he was going to puke coming out of the beach, I finished the next 1000 meters and proceeded for my 37 mile bike ride. It's Saipan. And this was no USAT race. A relay is a relay, whatever way you want to do it. Rules are bent here. So long as we finished. Now I figured the two of us would call it a day after my bike ride (which, by the way felt really good, especially considering I was sooooo not trained!), but when i got off my bike, there Rob was , ready to run 9.6 miles. Only he got "Saipan" lost (meaning the police officer directed him the wrong way) and added another mile and a half to the run. He finished strong! Congrats to our first relay triathlon together, and to teamwork! Home sweet home Part of my island tour with Rob is to show him my old living quarters. While it was quite simple, it was also quite idyllic. He agreed.
Cheers and happy training!
"Perserverence is a great element of success. If you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Posted by pinkgurugal at 6:36 AM
Now, I have never been one big on birthdays. Something to do with the celebrating yourself thing has always felt a bit strange. And as ironic as this seems, the center of attention part and adoration from others also feels wierd. I know, I worked in TV news for years. It's part of the reason I got out.
Posted by pinkgurugal at 9:10 AM
Saigonese Gone Sunning On Sunday morning, my Aunt Thuy, her husband Thanh and Aunt Thu all headed to Vung Tau, a popular beachside community south of Saigon. What is usually a 2 ½ to three hour road trip takes one hour and some change by way of ferry. The ride winds its way through the Port, which oddly, looks a lot like the Port of Houston.
By the way, I'm told working at KFC is a job that while many in the US would turn their nose on..... it's a coveted one here.
Modern and air conditioned, and up two a whopping 2 US dollars a day? I’ve never met friendlier fast food staff.
Lounging Local Style
Now when it comes to seeing my family, I do as they do. And that means hiding from the sun under an umbrella. Vietnamese women HATE to get sun. Something to do with working in the rice fields...meaning you are poor....
Also, the vietnamese, primarily the women, are VERY conservative. I did not see one woman in a bathing suit swimming. They did sell those bathing suits with skirts, but the water didn’t look inviting anyways.
So lounging at the beach, in the shade, we rested and ate crabs. My family balked at paying 180,000 dong (11 bucks) for two HUGE fresh crabs.
I didn’t. We ordered up a feast. How often can you get these for this price in the US??
Around 3:30 in the afternoon, we headed back to the port, where we would learn the tickets on the ferry were sold out.
So for two uncertain hours, we waited to get on board, hoping there would be no shows.
We BARELY made it after my uncle learned about some scalped tickets being sold on the street corner. I mean, we literally jumped on and the ferry started moving.
When my parents used to live in Vietnam, they would frequent Vung Tau beach on the weekends. My aunt told me some really nice stories about coming here with my them, and how at the time, I was just a tad too young to go.
I thought about them quite a bit on this day.
Maybe I’ll take them here soon.
Cheers and happy training!
Posted by pinkgurugal at 2:34 AM
And my long morning of travelling would end when my one of my Uncles and second cousin would take us home, and ironically on mopeds once again. So after nearly 8 hours, after a few close calamity calls, my commute by car, plane, shuttle van and moped would finally end. I’m home. Creature Comforts I’m staying in the heart of the city, much like the Times Square of Hue, at my Aunt and Uncle Binh’s home.
Uncle Binh is the son of my Great uncle Oc. Since I never knew my maternal grandfather, Great Uncle Oc is as close as he gets.
The Vo’s were incredibly hospitable.. I loved just lounging and eating. I learned on this trip that theVietnamese not only have a strong sense of family, but they possess great patience.
Not many Americans, in their busy, everyday worlds, can just sit around all day and talk with family. I only had two nights in Hue, and I am remiss I didn’t have more. I wanted to spend some more time with Uncle Oc, but I guess that will have to wait for the next time. I did however, document some of his story…one I hopefully can share with my children. I promised my relatives my next trip here would be sooner than years later. After all, my Great Uncle admittedly doesn’t have a lot of time left in this world. Cheers and happy training!
Posted by pinkgurugal at 7:43 AM
Larry's Bar On my final evening Dalat, I decided to go head “down into town” (my hotel is on the hill) to check out The Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel and a bar fondly named “Larry’s Bar” for good reason. Even 13 years after his death, homage is paid to “Larry” for effectively saving this 1920’s high end French hotel from destruction. Larry is credited with also having the vision to put Dalat on the map for foreign travel at a time when Vietnam’s tourism industry was virtually nonexistent. I’m sure he would be very proud to see the fruits of his labor, not just with the hotel, but also with other development projects he had going across Vietnam. I didn’t know Larry, but I know his story all to well. When I lived in Saipan , I used to work for TV station that was part of a holding company in largely owned by “Larry.” He died in May 1995, less than a year before I arrived. But Larry wasn’t just any Larry. He was Larry Hillblom, an eccentric billionaire who moved to Saipan to escape paying Uncle Sam his fortune. You would know Larry as the “H” in DHL He founded it with a couple of buddies in college. Actually, DHL started the air shipping business. There would be no Fed Ex without DHL. The guy’s professional life is impressive. His personal story is wildly interesting…the stuff movies are made of. Apparently Larry had a penchant for young, virgin prostitutes, several of whom would father his children. Larry apparently was not much for condoms. In the end, DNA tests would prove Larry fathered kids from Palau, three from Vietnam and one from the Phillipines. After he died there was a hard fought legal struggle for his estate. He willed everything he owned to UCLA for medical research. But his kids wanted the dough. So after years in a Saipan probate court ….. (insert Chau’s involvement here: young, hungry reporter, interviews parties involved in “Hillblom” case, lawyers, experts and even my “bosses”… can we say conflict of interest?) Larry’s billion dollar estate (that included the Dalat property) was ultimately dissolved, and everyone, including UCLA, the kids, lawyers and parents, got a slice of that billion dollar pie. Oh and how did Larry die? In a plane crash near Saipan. His body was never recovered, so lawyers fought over the mole he had removed following his first plane crash (yep, he survived the first one) , and for some reason, still kept at UCLA. Getting his DNA was key to this. I could go on and on about the zany stories I heard about Larry as well as details of his case (everyone in Saipan had some connection). But suffice it to say if you visit Dalat, come to Larry’s Bar, and you now know.
His story is also spelled out in the menu. But don’t expect to see the darker Larry Hillblom story shared. Cheers and happy training!
Posted by pinkgurugal at 7:24 AM
Solo Sentiments Travelling alone has its benefits. Go as you please, do as you may, eat as you want, etc..... It also has its setbacks. You are alone. And today I really felt it. Even though I did have some company today.... today's 5 hour ride around Dalat's picturesque Liang Bian Mountain was spent with my A-OK guide, Tuyen... Outside of that, for the last four days I've been hanging out with primarily....mmmm... me. Not that I get lonely (I really like the person i'm alone with), but today I was feeling a little homesick. See, when I decided several months ago to set out on my world adventures, I didn't expect and to fall in love in the process. It was still important for me to travel, we agreed. But I have also chosen to shorten my stays. I will be apart from Rob for three weeks by the time I see him again.
Posted by pinkgurugal at 1:14 PM
Now if you were afraid of heights, you would have been in trouble.
Posted by pinkgurugal at 5:12 AM